Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Gareth Thomas to tackle homophobic chanting in sport

Credit: PA

Former Wales rugby union captain Gareth Thomas will join forces with Damian Collins MP on Monday in a bid to make indecent and homophobic chanting illegal.

Thomas and Collins plan to launch a draft bill to amend the existing Football Offences Act (1991). The launch event will take place at the Houses of Parliament before Collins, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, will table the bill.

The proposed amendment to the act seeks to "make chanting or gesturing of an indecent nature with reference to sexual orientation or gender identity against the law", a DCMS committee operational note announcing the launch stated.

Section three of the existing act states that "it is an offence to engage or take part in chanting of an indecent or racialist nature at a designated football match".

There is a definition of "of a racialist nature" - "threatening, abusive or insulting to a person by reason of his colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins".

But there is no definition of what is "indecent", so determining whether something is indecent is on an individual basis.

Thomas, who made 100 appearances for Wales, scoring 41 tries, and three Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions, came out as gay in December 2009, shortly after divorcing his wife.

He moved to rugby league in March 2010, making four appearances for Wales, and retired from all forms of rugby in October 2011.

In 2017, the 43-year-old presented a BBC documentary titled 'Gareth Thomas v Homophobia, Hate in the Beautiful Game', witnessing institutionalised homophobia in football.

The DCMS committee in the same year published its report into tackling homophobia in sport and now both parties say they are turning acknowledgement into action with the amendment.